Smashbox Pore Minimizing Photo Finish Foundation Primer Review & Swatches

Are you ready to meet my new (face primer) BFF? I know I’ve mentioned this product quite a few times already on HelloJaa (1, 2, 3, 4) but today will be a complete review with actual full-sized product and before-and-after photos! :D This primer has been receiving nothing but positive reviews since its launch earlier this year and after 3 months of daily use, I’ve got to tell you that it is really as good as they say!

Smashbox cosmetics is famous for their face primers so it came as no surprise that their newest product to join the Photo Finish family has already made it to the top 10 best-selling face primers on Sephora as well as one of the Allure Best of Beauty award winners of 2014!

Smashbox Pore Minimizing Photo Finish Foundation Primer
Smashbox Pore Minimizing Photo Finish Foundation Primer

Smashbox Pore Minimizing Photo Finish Foundation Primer comes in the same squeeze tube-style as the rest of the Photo Finish line except the color of the tube is a nice purple pastel. It’s hygienic, practical, and functional, so it’s a 10 for the packaging.

Similar to the original Photo Finish primer, the new Pore Minimizing version is also loaded with silicones. If your skin is sensitive to them, it’s best to try a sample first. I typically cannot stand the silicone-y feeling of most face primers regardless of how smooth and soft they make my skin feel; I can just always feel them sitting on my face and clogging my pores (and in some cases breaking me out).

This new pore-minimizing version, however, has silica in it so it has more of a “powdery” feel rather than full-on “slippery” and this, I can get along with better. Still, due to my acne-prone skin, I try to use it only on the areas where there are visible pores as opposed to slathering it on all over the face and risking the skin’s reaction.

Smashbox Pore Minimizing Photo Finish Foundation Primer
Smashbox Pore Minimizing Photo Finish Foundation Primer

The product itself has a flesh-toned color. It comes out of the tube quite thick (thicker than the Benefit POREfessional and Too Faced Primed and Poreless) but it spreads and blends really well into the skin. The flesh-toned color is virtually invisible once it is applied. My pores are noticeably concealed and my skin overall feels smooth and matte instantly. The powdery finish is not too powdery; it still has just a hint of “creaminess” to the touch so that your foundation has something to adhere to.

I find the best way to use this primer is to apply only as necessary on well-moisturized skin using fingertips. Due to the silica content, using too much on dry skin can lead to the product balling up and/or catching every dry patch and flaking off. I have better results when I apply it before or after my foundation but never after powder.

The company claims 8 hours of pore concealing and I agree! It really does a good job at keeping my skin smooth and pore-less throughout my usual work day! My makeup seems to also stays fresh longer than without the primer. I am very satisfied with the result! :)

The product is scent-free, oil-free and supposedly “sweat- and humidity-resistant“, however in my case, it doesn’t really perform any better than my other primers when it comes to oil-controlling. My T-zone still gets slightly dewy in the afternoon but at least it’s never oily to the point that I feel I have to blot. It doesn’t tone down the redness around my nose much, either (it doesn’t claim to) but I guess that’s more of a concealer’s job.

The proof

Wearing Smashbox Pore Minimizing Photo Finish Foundation Primer (right)
Wearing Smashbox Pore Minimizing Photo Finish Foundation Primer (right)

See my skin on the right side? Super smooth, mattified, and pores are much less noticeable compared to the left side where I didn’t apply the primer. :)

I can honestly say that this is among the best of the best pore-minimizing primers I’ve tried to date. It works great as promised, does not break me out, and more importantly, lasts a long time with daily use! I have had my sample tube for almost 3 months now (I only use it around my nose and a little bit on my forehead and chin each time, not all over the face) and I am only just about to finish! I suspect the full-size tube is going to last me a year at least!

So yes, a huge thumbs up from me for the new Smashbox Pore Minimizing Photo Finish Foundation Primer! :)


US$39 at NordstromSephoraMacy’sAmazonSmashbox

฿700 at Sephora Thailand

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  1. says: Sunny

    Okay, this goes on my wish list! I’ll have to use up my Dior one first tho, because I don’t like to let base products pile up (lipsticks and eyeshadows are a different story)! Your bare skin is great to begin with, but I can see how photoshopped this primer makes it look!

    1. says: Jaa

      I’m so bummed that the Dior one didn’t work on me at all! I really, really wanted to love it but it’s just too drying for me. Maybe it was meant to be, because otherwise I wouldn’t have discovered this one by Smashbox! :D

      Do you use face primer everyday? Do you have any other favorites besides the Dior one?

      1. says: Sunny

        Hey Jaa, I don’t wear makeup every day, but when I do, I pretty much systematically use a primer! I only use the Pore Minimizer for my T-zone. For the rest of my face, I love the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer as well as the clear Clinique one! Combination skin is annoying. One primer doe NOT fit all.

        1. says: Jaa

          True that! Come to think of it, I apply 2 different primers on my face everyday. One all over the face and the other (this Smashbox one) only on specific areas. :D

  2. says: Jasmine

    A very nice difference because of this primer, your skin looks really good – like you had a spa visit and 30 hours of sleep :D The packaging is pretty cute as well.

    1. says: Jaa

      Thanks so much, Jasmine! 30 hours of sleep?! You know I want that more than winning a lottery! LOL! Ok, maybe not but close. Haha.

  3. says: Xuvious

    The only primer I’ve used is the Illamasqua Satin Primer which is nice and dewy. I like this but I may not buy it just yet because I just don’t use primers that often. I’d love to try a sample though.

  4. Woah, look at that half & half effect, if that’s not convincing then I don’t know anymore! I can’t believe how enthusiastic you are about this one… The best pore minimizing primer I’ve tried so far is the Dior Pore Minimizer, but I think that once I finish my tube I’ll try the Smashbox one.

    1. says: Jaa

      I’m so jealous right now. I really wanted to like the Dior one. I had such high hope for it but it’s just too drying for me. :( So glad it works for a lot of people, though. Sunny included!

  5. says: Jenny

    WOW! I can definitely see the difference. I’ve been using POREfessional and while I like it, I don’t think it fills in my pores the way everyone claims it does. After I run out of my unfortunate new tube, I am purchasing this! Thank you :)

    1. says: Jaa

      My pleasure, Jenny! I have to say this one has a better coverage than the benefit POREfessional! Hopefully it will work out better for you! :)

  6. says: Liz

    I went through a bottle and a half of the original Smashbox primer before I decided I detested the texture and never tried any of their other primers again. This one has such a nice blurring effect though, so I’d be interested in getting a mini for the odd occasion. I’ve phased out primers for the most part though – trying to rely more on sunscreens instead.

    Have you tried Hourglass Veil Mineral? That one kept me mattified best when worn with oil-free bases.

    1. says: Jaa

      Actually I have! It’s the one primer I trust and use every time I go out to keep my face matte! :D It never disappoints. :D

  7. says: Sylirael

    OOOOOH…. O_O


    See? Even the ‘o’s of my ‘oooh’ got smaller after looking at the effect this primer has…imnpressive! I’v ehad some good luck recently with reducing pores by changing my moisturiser (of all things!) but there are, of course, some stubborn areas…

      1. says: Sylirael

        I started using rosehip oil! There’s a brand in NZ called Essano, which makes rosehip oil products that are cruelty free, paraben free, organic, etc. Free of everything except rosehip oil, LOL! Their ‘chemicals are scaaaryyy!’ marketing makes me want to punch them, but I can’t deny what works. They have a little ‘discovery kit’ that has some of the oil, some facial moisturiser, a night creme, and a body lotion. I’m planning to do a full review soon (wanted to test it out properly), but in short: the oil and the night cream are great, the other stuff is nice but skippable (for me). I use the rosehip oil every morning, and the night cream every evening, and noticed that my skin is super soft and supple, and the pores around my nose and the centre of my forehead near my brows especially are *noticeably* decreased, hooray!! I also don’t get the horrible dry chunky patches any more, and my breakouts are fewer :-) The other nice thing about the brand is that each item (in the full size) is only about (or less than) $20, which is awesome for NZ prices. Part of it may be because the oil is cold pressed, not CO2 extracted, but tbh I have yet to find much literature that *confirms* that the CO2 extract is really all that much better in the end. Maybe you should give rosehip oil a go! :-D

        1. says: Jaa

          Oh wow you made me want to try the rosehip oil! I still have a gigantic bottle of the Tarte Maracuja oil to go through (I have a feeling it’s going to take me until the end of summer 2015 to finish, lol) but I’ll definitely look into the rosehip oil next! Thanks for all the info, Syl!

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